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Openreach SD Third Party Resource

21 January 2014

An agreement was reached, endorsed by Conference, which set out the use of additional third party labour to support Openreach during the run up to and launch of BT Sport.

The agreement also included the recruitment of an additional 1000 direct labour employees. Those were split between 400 apprentices (graded at B2) and 600 B1s specifically employed for TV and Managed Install work.

The agreement set out a process of monitoring and regular debate with the National Team throughout 2013 culminating in a position where the business as usual workload would be completed by direct labour. Regular reports have been given on progress made and discussed at the quarterly Openreach Briefing Committees and meetings with SPOCs. Openreach have now set out a proposal for the further use of third party labour during Q4 (until 31 March 2014) for three specific reasons set out below.

Decreasing Mean Time Between Faults

Openreach have been successful in obtaining an additional 10m for FVR work to be carried out during Q4. The main driver behind the additional funding is to deal with the decreasing mean time between faults. This now stands at one fault every 11 years compared to one fault every 15 years four years ago. The proposal sets out the use of c.770 FTE third party labour to release direct labour to carry out the FVR activities. This will now be put on hold or dramatically reduced in those areas where Contractual Overtime is currently invoked. The NT are clear that whilst this additional investment is welcome, Openreach should set out a longer term plan underpinned by further additional budget provision, which relies on direct labour to carry out FVR activities and does not rely on the use of third party labour to backfill.

Efficiency Improvements

Openreach have set out that whilst positive progress has been made in raising the levels of productive output in the field, overall efficiency levels have not yet achieved the planned level. While Openreach work to improve these efficiency shortfalls, they argue they will need to maintain a level of contractor usage to provide short term additional capacity. This capacity gap equates to c.260 FTE contractors in the short term. The NT has requested the specific details associated with the efficiency shortfalls and the proposed actions to be taken.

Reduction of Fault Volumes

Openreach's analysis of fault arrival patterns shows a higher than forecast level, typically 8,000 jobs per week above what was planned for. Openreach plans to take further steps to reduce fault volumes, and at this stage considers this a temporary variance to plan. In the short term, it represents a capacity gap of c.370 FTE, which will be addressed through the use of contractors on provision activity to enable direct labour to deal with the repair volumes. The NT has made clear their belief that the solution to dealing with the additional repair volumes lies in the recruitment of additional permanent direct labour.

The above represents an overall requirement for c.1400 FTE contractors during Q4.

CWU Position

Through discussion with the NT, c.380 of the agreed B1 recruits are now graded B2. The NT has argued that a decision to re-grade the remaining c.217 B1s to B2 and up-skill them would both increase efficiency and assist with the additional repair volumes in the short and long term.

Openreach again find themselves in a position where a case has been made to the CWU under the terms of the High Level Resourcing Principles (HLRP) agreement for the continued use of third party labour. The NT has not agreed the continued use of the third party labour and meetings are being arranged with Openreach to discuss these issues in more detail. The NT has been very clear with Openreach that a long term solution to the ongoing resourcing difficulties must be found otherwise Openreach will continue to find themselves operating outwith the HLRP agreement and the CWU will be forced to plan and react accordingly.